Hamilton had a very good start in Barcelona, took the lead and from there on managed to control the race comfortably and raced to his third victory this season.
Mercedes’ already historic dominance continued in Barcelona, with the German team making it a fifth consecutive 1-2 finish of the season. A race that saw Lewis Hamilton rejoin the leadership of the F1 World Drivers Championships rankings and where Ferrari once again failed to operate on the same level as Mercedes.
Lewis Hamilton performed a phenomenal start, Valtteri Bottas reacted a little late, and Sebastian Vettel who also had a fantastic start managed to come right next to Bottas on the outside of turn 1. Hamilton, who had the inside managed to take the lead, and Valtteri Bottas, who found himself caught in-between the two world champions, managed to escape without his car being damaged.
After the initial commotion, Sebastian Vettel, slowed down considerably due to locking up his left front tire in the first turn when trying to pass Bottas round the outside, and found himself in an uncomfortable position. The German was shaken by Bottas who nearly lost the rear end of his Mercedes car and then challenged his team-mate Charles Leclerc. The big winner of this situation was Max Verstappen, who, a little further behind, managed to get a good line in turn four and managed to pass both Ferrari drivers in a single move.
Racing order at the start of the first round was as follows: Lewis Hamilton at the helmet with a healthy advantage, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc. Things have not changed much during the race, Hamilton was in the first position from start to finish, the same story for Bottas and second place.
So the fight for the last place on the podium took place between Max, Charles and Sebastian. All three were in P3 at certain times of the race, but in the end, it turned out to be Max Verstappen who managed to finish in third position partly due to his solid performance and partly due to taking advantage of the cruel mistakes made by the Ferrari tactical team.
Let’s recap. Because of the situation at the start, Charles Leclerc had tires better than Sebastian Vettel in the first part of the race, and with better tires, the Monegasc driver was net faster and asked to be allowed to pass by Vettel who had a flat-spot on the front left tire. Ferrari’s decision, as in previous races, came much too late. The green light for the driver swap came in about four laps since the first radio contact about the move. Leclerc’s tires had already begun to lose their grip, and Vettel was running damaged tires all this time. This saw both Ferrari drivers lose precious time.
Even before he was overtaken by Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel asked the team to be pitted “pronto!”. The decision of the team… once again would come too late. Net, Vettel had lost at least five seconds to this point, and Leclerc had lost even more. Then there were some problems with the pit-stops, Vettel’s left rear tire caused trouble, and the German lost another second and a half there and obviously ended up in traffic they tried avoiding by letting him stay out longer.
A similar situation appeared later in the race, when Charles Leclerc, who also had a similar problem during his pitstop where he lost time, was on the circuit with hard compound tires right in front of Vettel who was clearly faster on the medium compound tires and this time Vettel asked to be left to pass Leclerc as he was on an alternative strategy. The Ferrari decision… was delayed by at least seven laps once again and this time Vettel was the in the loosing end and, overall, both Ferrari drivers lost a good opportunity to fight for the podium because of the lack of unified teamwork and swift strategical decisions.
Overall, the mistakes of the Ferrari strategy team was the most interesting part of this Spanish Grand Prix. A race, free from big events and free of show in most respects.
Romain Grosjean chose an alternate line in the first turn three times, twice pushed by Kevin Magnussen and once by Carlos Sainz, the French pilot was forced to leave the track in an almost identical manner in three distinct situations.
Contact between Lando Norris and Lance Stroll saw both pilots abandoning the race. Kimi Raikkonen picked the rally route in turn four of the first lap of the race, which cost him a possible position in points given his rhythm later.
In the end, a calm and controlled victory from the reigning World Champion in a fifth 1-2 for the Silver Arrows. A second podium of the season for Max Verstappen. Another bad race result for the Scuderia, their two drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, finishing in fourth and fifth respectively.
A very good and well-deserved seventh place for Haas, who finally managed to capitalize on their performance in qualifying, both cars ending in points, Seventh for Kevin Magnussen and Tenth for Romain Grosjean.
Eighth place went to McLaren for a great performance by Carlos Sainz at his home race, and Daniil Kvyat finished in ninth place, delivering a very stable performance for Toro Rosso.
- Source: GP24 Author Adam Cristian
- Photocredit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1